Monday, 30 March 2009

Various Diversions

From time to time I feel obliged to do a compendium entry, especially when there is nothing much amongst my recent viewing that seems to warrant a review of its own. So here is a selection of movies seen since my last entry -- quite a few as it happens -- to be 'blessed' with a few comments:

Three French flicks, one from German TV: "Etoile sans Lumiere" (1946) which I watched for its screen role for Edith Piaf; it's a similar tale to "Singin' in the Rain" in which her voice is used to dub a fading screen star at the introduction to talkies, but without the happy ending. The other two, courtesy of CineMoi were "Mon Colonel" (2006) about intrigue in Algiers and its latter-day aftermath and "Rue des Plaisirs" (2002), a period-piece set at the end of World War Two about a whore, her true love, and the man who truly loves her. Again, don't look to the French for happy endings, although the former seemed to be morally acquitting a murderer.

Spring Parade (1940): This is the only Deanna Durbin film which I'd not seen before and a pleasant piece of period Austrian fluff it was with the young singer in good form and great support from some of my favourite character actors: Mischa Auer, S.Z. 'Cuddles' Sakall, and Franklin Pangborn.

Trauma (2004) and Bug (2006): These were two thoroughly muddled and unpleasant films of mental delusion, the first starring Colin Firth and the latter starring Ashley Judd, both of which featured a selection of creepy crawly insects which is guaranteed to freak me out.

Diary of the Dead (2007): I wish George Romero would pack it in with his zombie movies and either retire or find a new string to his bow. This one, in common with [Rec] a Spanish film of the same year which I saw about a week ago, follows the current Blair Witch/Cloverfield vogue of telling the tale via a hand-held video camera. Yuk! At least the Spanish entry which of course is being remade Stateside was well and truly scary, whereas the Romero effort could only boast three really nifty gore effects -- if you go for that sort of thing!

Painted Veil (2006): I really don't know who thought it would be a good idea to remake this 1934 Greta Garbo film at great length, starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton. Yes, the photography actually filmed in China was magnificent, but the movie itself was worthy and dreary, despite the acting talent involved.

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937): This is one of the great unknown classics of that fabulous decade and is throughly sad and upsetting as it deals with a family's treatment of its older generation, a story which is as true today as ever. Beulah Bondi, only 48 when this was made, plays the aged mother of five children, including Thomas Mitchell (all of three years her junior) who is forcefully separated from her loving husband of many years (Victor Moore). A real weepy!

The Great Madcap (1949): This is another very minor film from the great Luis Bunuel during his Mexican exile concerning a wealthy man who pretends to have lost everything in an effort to teach a lesson to his greedy children and relatives. I'm glad to have finally seen it, but it's a very workaday film.

So now you have it, or partially, since I actually did see a few other things over the weekend, but who in their right mind watches so many films? I do, I proudly admit...
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